Frequency and Occurrence
As women come to the end of pregnancy, babies get larger and the frequency of turning in utero reduces. It is common prior to week 32 for babies to move but after that, it is preferred for babies to be head down and prepared for birth. In a recent study, first-time breech presentation at term occurred in 4.2% of first pregnancy deliveries, 2.2% of second pregnancies and 1.9% of third pregnancies.
Why and When Is Breech Presentation An Issue?
As a woman gets closer to her due date and the baby gets larger, the chances for baby to turn into a head first position reduces. Most obstetricians and midwives will not deliver a breech positioned baby vaginally. If avoiding a cesarean section is desired, it is recommended to try acupuncture and moxibustion- a non-invasive and natural technique to turn a breech positioned baby.
How Does Acupuncture and Moxa Treat Breech Positioned Babies?
According to Chinese medicine, providing moxibustion to the acupuncture point Bladder 67 (or Zhi Yin) at the small toe will create warming energy (Yang) in the pelvic floor. This warming energy will cause movement. The uterus is also situated in the pelvic floor, and the movement will cause the baby to move which can result in the turning of the baby.
According to western medical science, moxibustion and acupuncture improve blood circulation in the uterus. This increases the chance of the baby turning spontaneously. In addition, moxa stimulates the adrenal gland and the hormones the adrenal gland produces. It also positively affects the muscular tissue of the womb. This causes the baby to become more active and ultimately, could turn.
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The Moxibustion Procedure
Artemesia Vulgaris, or Mugwort, is the herb used in the technique moxibustion. A modern application of the technique uses a stick of the herb which is ignited and held over the small toe of the woman. A mild heat is felt at the toe while the woman comfortably rests in a reclining chair or supported on a table. The heat is held over the left and right small toe for 15 minutes. Additional acupuncture points are chosen to further encourage relaxation of the uterus and to encourage the baby to turn.
We train patients to continue the technique at home and recommend return acupuncture treatments as needed.
Does It Work?
In a JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) study published in 1998 about moxa on pregnant western women showed the chances of a spontaneous turning of a baby during the 33rd to the 36th week increase from 50% to 75%.